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A View of the Lake Paperback – June 1, 2011

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A View of the Lake + The Scent of God: A Memoir + The Long-Shining Waters (Milkweed National Fiction Prize)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Superior Port Cities (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0942235746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942235746
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"For those eager to enjoy a vivid journey to this majestic inland sea, A View of the Lake is a splendid introduction" --Emilie Buchwald, publisher emeritus, Milkweed editions

"At once evocative, calming and deeply spiritual, Bissell's writing is something to be treasured."--Alison McGhee, Pulitzer Prize nominee and No. 1 New York Times bestselling author

"Beryl's personal story of life before the Lake, and the solace the Lake provides, are woven throughout, but the people of Lake Superior are her real subject." --Catherine Watson, author of Roads Less Traveled and Home on the Road

"Like collecting stones along the Big Lake's rugged shoreline, [her stories] are so beautiful you can't help but pick them up and refuse to let them go." --Chuck Frederick, author of Leatherheads of the North

From the Author

Thirteen years ago, my husband and I arrived on the North Shore having no idea of what life in that place entailed. While focusing first on the trials that beset us after our impulsive move, A View of the Lake becomes more reflective as the Lake became, as it were, my mentor. We'd arrived driving our SUVs, thinking that our only deprivations would be access to nearby groceries and Mr. Movies, but one does not live year-round on Lake Superior without noting the effects lifestyles such as ours have on the environment. Thus it was that A view of the Lake became a chronicle of how we learned to live on the North Shore, a "we came for the view but we stay because of the place" experience. 
Culled from hundreds of pages of journal notes, my weekly "Newcomer Notes" columns in the Cook County News Herald and daily logs,  A View of the Lake comprises the essence of our experience on the Big Lake. Ours is not a back-to-the-land story. We have running water and electricity and heat our home with propane. It is, rather, a narrative of two ordinary lives transposed into an extraordinary setting where nature and a small community became our teachers: An experience replicated wherever people encounter an environment so profuse with wonders that one wants never again to take them for granted. 
Like deep breathing, writing A View of the Lake nourished me between my first published memoir The Scent of God and its sequel, Looking for Francesca on which I've been working for the past 7 years and which is still in process. For the joy of this experience, I am deeply grateful. I hope you will enjoy reading A View of the Lake as much as I enjoyed writing it.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Beryl Singleton Bissell was born in Saddle River, New Jersey grew up in Puerto Rico, and now lives in Minnesota. She's been a nun, a wife, mother, a widow, a divorcee, and for the past twelve years has been happily married to a man nine years younger than she is.

Bissell's work experience is almost as varied as her personal history. After leaving the monastery, she worked with a set designer in Puerto Rico, spent a year as national coordinator for the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, designed and sold 18-karat gold jewelry, and spent eight years at Milkweed Editions, a not-for-profit literary press in Minneapolis. In 1996, having returned to school as a single parent, she received her B.A. from Metropolitan State University.

She was named Best of 2006 Minnesota Authors for her memoir, "The Scent of God: A Memoir" (www.berylsingletonbissell.com)-- a "Notable" Book Sense selection for April 2006. Her newest book,"A View of the Lake," was released June 1, 2011. The Minneapolis Star Tribune named it as one of the best 2011regional books.

Meanwhile she is working on her third book, tentatively titled "Looking for Francesca: A Mother's Story" which picks up where The Scent of God leaves off and limns the years leading to her daughter's unresolved violet death at the age of 24.

Customer Reviews

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I recommend it highly for your reading pleasure.
I tried to read each essay a day at a time but this book is so wonderful I read it through in just a couple of sittings.
The depth, honesty, humility and also humor with which she writes are truly rare.
Julie Balmer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Julie Balmer on July 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read Bissell's "The Scent of God" a few years ago and its mood and beauty stayed with me for a long time after. I have purchased other copies to give as gifts over the years.

I was anxious to read her new work, and I just finished reading "A View of the Lake." I'm struck by what a generous gift of heart and soul it is from the author to all who will read. Reading Beryl's exquisite writing is truly like being vicariously immersed in her life on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The depth, honesty, humility and also humor with which she writes are truly rare.

I read as much as I can and love books...many books are readable; this one is to be absorbed and savored and exulted over more than once. This one is to be owned. I have also purchased another copy to give as a gift, and anyone looking for something to give a reading friend will want to stock up on "A View of the Lake" as well. Beauty and blessing ooze from the pages of this magnificent book of essays.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By N. Brenner on August 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I grew up on Minnesota's North Shore. I spent all of my childhood and a significant amount of my young adult life mourning my sad existence in a "tourist town." Every day was spent fielding endless questions from haphazard traveler's who wonder such ridiculous things as, "Where can I find a campsite without bugs?" and, "How often do you go whale watching," or (my personal favorite), "How old does a deer need to be before it's considered a moose?" Living with cynical, ultra-conservative Northland parents I was doomed from the start to almost resent my northland home. I spent many an hour with my nose buried in various fantasy novels wishing for a more extraordinary existence, not realizing all of the magic that I was missing right outside my door.

It wasn't until recently, when I read "A View of the Lake," did I fully come to appreciate what a wonderful, enchanting environment I live in. Beryl Singleton Bissell's words paint a picture of a beautiful landscape full of whimsical characters. Her delightfully simplistic yet profoundly meaningful stories and anecdotes have transformed my view of Schroeder from being fogged in dull, gray-scale to one overflowing with color. Her "newcomer" perspective allows long-time residents a rare opportunity to rethink their tired views about a place that they've long taken for granted. "A View of the Lake" is a must-read for anyone who has ever wanted to experience North Shore living at it's grandest, and especially for those who have forgotten the importance of appreciating all of the simple joys Mother Nature and kindly neighbors have to offer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Richard S. Friedman on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
"A View of the Lake chronicles the joys and lessons in finding
one's place amid the North Woods and its denizens. These
captivating tales of wildlife encounters, Big Lake adventures,
fascinating neighbors and personal challenges will enchant
residents, visitors and those who have yet to experience the draw
of Lake Superior."

What an amazing book- I just received it this morning and read it right through- so amazing is the prose- the characters encountered- even the smallest of wildlife- this is a book to treasure- I wish I could give it 10 stars- I read it start to finish!!


Rick Friedman
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kim Robinson on July 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
"--The glass front door revealed a house filled with windows and these windows were filled with lake."

So begins the luminously beautiful journey of Beryl Singleton Bissell's, "A View of the Lake."

Beryl's short stories are like glimmering jewels for the mind and soul. She brings her readers into a world where humanity & nature become one. A world so thoroughly magical & melodious that we don't want to depart once we've entered.

And one needn't live on the North Shore or be good Minnesotan to cherish the insights about life.

"Place reveals itself one day at t time...in the end it's not the accumulation of facts that matter, but the wisdom born in the journey."

In "A Summer Case of Spring Fever," Beryl chats to the glue eyed grass. "....look at you," she exclaims, "if you aren't the most beautiful little things!" Moreover, she admits to Congratulating the winter wrens for their glorious songs.

I found myself shading with yellow marker line after line of beauty as I do with the great poets. I found myself wanting to visit the post office in Schroeder to sip strong coffee and gossip with the locals. I found myself wanting to sit on the deck with Beryl to listen to the rippling waves of Lake Superior.

"This is the place where we came in search of a home and found as well our reason for being."---A View of the Lake

----Oh, one more thing. Beryl, you may not see yourself as a naturalist... but you are. You Are!

I loved this book!!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Thornberg on June 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Imagine yourself invited to stay a few days
at the lakeside home of Beryl and Bill.
Early morning, you are up before the others,
sitting at a window facing east, with a cup
of fresh coffee cradled in your hands.
You are looking into the deep blue soul
of the biggest lake you have ever seen,
when you spot Beryl's personal journal
open on the coffee table where she left it.
You know a journal is a private diary,
a window to her soul, not for prying eyes.
So you do what any well-mannered guest
would do; you reach for it and start reading!
A View of the Lake is that kind of book.
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